Posted on: June 14, 2010 1:45 am
BOSTON -- Dwyane Wade sat courtside Sunday night for Game 5 of the NBA Finals, a stage that he desperately wants to revisit. His coach in the 2006 Finals, Pat Riley, recently floated the idea that, if asked, he wouldn't rule out a return to the bench. Wade, for one, isn't planning for such a comeback.
"That’s just something that was said," Wade said after the Celtics beat the Lakers 92-86 to take a 3-2 lead in the Finals. "That’s not anything we’re concentrating on right now in Miami."
Wade said Riley hasn't spoken with him recently about his plans for next season, when it is believed that a request from a marquee free agent would prompt Riley to come down from the executive suite and replace the highly regarded but ringless Erik Spoelstra on the sideline.
"Right now, Spo’s the coach and that’s what I plan for going forward," Wade said.
Wade, one of the top free agents of the frenzied summer that will begin in earnest July 1, prefaced his willingness to answer questions in the hallway leading to the locker rooms with the following caveat: "As long as it's not about free agency." But Wade did confirm a report in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel that he spoke last week in Los Angeles with fellow prospective free agents Chris Bosh and Joe Johnson.
"We’re just friends," Wade said. "Just like you talk to your friends, we’re all friends and we all communicate."
Though Wade said he hasn't begun the recruiting process to help lure another star to Miami, the notion of Riley returning to coach could be a big draw. Of the teams with the most cap space to chase free agents, the Nets (Avery Johnson) and Bulls (Tom Thibodeau) have committed to new coaches. The Knicks already have Mike D'Antoni, who is close to several top free agents from his time as an assistant for Mike Krzyzewski with Team USA. The Clippers are holding out hope that they could lure Larry Brown or Phil Jackson, and the Cavs have made a five-year, $30 million play for the top name in college coaching, Tom Izzo.
For now, in Wade's mind, Riley should be excluded from that list. Just know that recruiting season hasn't really begun yet.
Posted on: June 9, 2010 7:25 pm
BOSTON -- Lakers guard Shannon Brown would be happy for his college coach, Tom Izzo, if he made the jump to the NBA as coach of the Cavaliers. But Brown's enthusiasm, offered in the locker room after Game 3 of the NBA Finals, didn't come without a warning.
"He’s gonna have to, in my opinion, adjust some of his coaching tactics and techniques," said Brown, one of numerous NBA players who played for Izzo in East Lansing. "But I definitely think he could be successful at this level. The legacy that he has and could possibly leave at Michigan State is something that not too many people could do. If he stays, I'm happy for him. If he goes, I’m happy for him. He definitely has the options in his hands."
Izzo is mulling an offer from the Cavs that is anticipated to be in the $6 million-a-year range. Despite a flurry of speculation Wednesday that Izzo had accepted or verbally committed, sources told CBSSports.com that wasn't the case. Izzo is said to be doing his due diligence -- read, trying to figure out if he'd be coaching LeBron James or a rebuilding team -- and the negotiation is ongoing, according to a person involved in it.
Izzo, who has led the Spartans to six Final Fours and one national title, is known for his intense, fiery demeanor and for being extremely hard on his players. That's fine for a college coach, but won't work in the NBA. One factor that could work in Izzo's favor is that he's been at Michigan State so long, his name and accomplishments mean something to a cross section of NBA players who would respect what he's done at the college level.
"I’d just tell him it’s a whole different thing from college to the NBA," said Brown, who played for Izzo from 2003-06. "It’s a whole different business. You've got to be ready for anything."
Lakers coach Phil Jackson, who soon will enter into a contract negotiation for next season having already acknowledged that he'll be asked to take a pay cut from his current $12 million salary, was asked before Game 3 Tuesday night for his thoughts on a college coaching hauling in half that much per year.
"Good for him," Jackson said. "Way to go."
But Jackson warned that coaching in the NBA is an "arduous task."
"It's not an easy job, and you know, when it's 200 some days, depending on how far you go into the playoffs, it's pretty arduous as far as dealing with stars of all ranges coming to the NBA," he said. "And from that, it has to go on for 82 games. It's a long march, and that gets difficult. The game itself, 82 games is a big difference from 30 or whatever you coach in college."
Nobody has coached more NBA superstars than Jackson, and Brown said communication will be the key for Izzo.
"It would be tough for him," Brown said. "He likes guys that are like him. He likes fiery guys. He probably couldn't talk to them the way he does sometimes, but I think if he made the adjustment he would be great."
Posted on: June 14, 2009 3:53 pm
ORLANDO, Fla. -- The Cavaliers are taking an aggressive posture as they head into the draft and free-agent period, so it was only a matter of time before the Shaquille O'Neal talks heated up again.
Several media outlets began reporting Sunday that the Cavs and Suns have reignited talks about sending Shaq to Cleveland to help LeBron James in his quest for a championship. There wasn't much to reignite in the first place; widely hyped discussions involving O'Neal at the trade deadline were never on the verge of producing a deal. An executive familiar with the situation told CBSSports.com Sunday that the situation hasn't evolved much since then, expressing surprise at the flurry of reports.
But when you have two teams desperate to move assets -- Phoenix with Shaq's $20 million expiring contract, and Cleveland with Ben Wallace's $14 million expiring contract and Sasha Pavlovic's partially guaranteed deal -- smoke often gives way to fire. Throw in the fact that the Cavs are coming off a debilitating loss to Orlando in the conference finals and an embarrassing week that featured a false report about coach Mike Brown's future, and you can see why the time may be right to shift to focus to the team's pursuit of O'Neal.
The executive involved in the teams' dealings said he fully expects the O'Neal situation to move to the forefront once the clubs begin fully exploring their options in the draft and free agency, which begins next month. The Suns, coming off a 46-win, non-playoff season, are highly motivated to move O'Neal in a bid to avoid paying luxury tax. Acquiring Wallace and Pavlovic, whose $4.9 million contract is only guaranteed for $1.5 million next season, would save Phoenix as much as $10 million, including luxury tax savings.
The Cavs view Pavlovic's partial guarantee and several players on minimum deals as a built-in trade exception they can use to improve the roster and give LeBron the big man he needs to compete for a championship at the highest level. A person familiar with the Cavs' thinking said the team is open to any and all possibilities and plans to take an aggressive approach in retooling a roster that won a league-best 66 games but failed to reach the NBA Finals.
A wild card in the Shaq talks is Wallace, who stated after the playoff loss to the Magic that he was seriously considering retirement. Cavs management has yet to speak directly with Wallace about his intentions, and as of now the club doesn't expect him to walk away from the $14 million left on his deal. If Wallace reiterated his desire to retire, it would spur buyout talks that would free up cap space immediately. Short of that, Wallace would get no money and the $14 million he is owed would come off the Cavs' books.
The idea of Shaq in Cleveland as a running mate for LeBron would present endless storylines and the delicious possibility of Kobe Bryant -- if he returns to the Lakers -- meeting his former and current nemeses in next year's Finals. The marketing people would have a field day adding a Shaq puppet to the popular Kobe & LeBron commercials. Bryant would be presented with the challenge of pursuing his fifth championship against the player he won with -- and feuded with -- in L.A. and the player who is trying to claim Bryant's title as the best player in the game.
It almost sounds too good to be true, except that it's not. Just give it some time.